After almost four years of active campaigning, the time has come. In just a few days, America will collectively choose a president. On November 6th, I will be casting my vote for our current president Mr. Barack Obama. I believe this decision is important and complex enough to expound upon somewhat further; not for reasons of persuasion or justification, but rather for communication and documentation.
The Economy. This topic is incredibly complex and is wrought with dueling statistics and expert panels. Even the most ignorant of the myriad experts on either side know much more than me on this topic, so I will not deign to try to judge among them. However, I believe that Mr. Romney’s plan for the economy relies entirely too much on trust. Trust that the economy will grow at an accelerated rate to help him afford his tax cuts. Trust that “job creators” will reinvest their tax savings to hire more workers, rather than cash in profits or take them overseas. And finally, trust that we will forget that the “Reagan Recovery” he so hopes to emulate led to one of the largest explosions of the national debt in history. Mr. Obama inherited an economy in free fall, which arguably hit its nadir about six months into his presidency. To expect us to be completely recovered in only three years is to defy the cyclical nature of history.
Foreign Policy. Mr. Obama’s foreign policy can seem at first glance to be somewhat muddled and haphazard. However, I believe this stems from the inherent complexities of international relations in our interconnected world. I much prefer Mr. Obama’s painstaking deliberation to treat each situation uniquely as well as his wholehearted attempts at multilateralism to Mr. Romney’s one-size-fits-all, with-us-or-against-us approach. Mr. Romney’s attempts to attack Mr. Obama for being “soft” in Iran or Syria leave no room for him to maneuver except to embroil the United States in more foreign wars which we cannot afford. Further, while it is vitally important for us to have an unquestioned staunch ally in a volatile region like the Middle East, that is no excuse to equate Israel’s national interests with our own. While they often do align, and mutual protection is a foundation for our alliance, our national interests must be our own, and must be the President’s focus at all times.
Health Care. It actually matters very little who becomes President in this regard. The fact is that Medicare is an extremely expensive entitlement program our nation can no longer afford. For political reasons, neither side is willing to directly cut benefits to voters, and both sides have pledged to save money. This must necessarily result in reduced reimbursement to healthcare providers–and subsequently to indirect reductions in benefits through more providers dropping Medicare patients, rationing of care, or the market producing less or lower quality physicians. The one alternative solution, sweeping malpractice tort reform, has unfortunately not made it to the conversation during this cycle.
Civil Rights. Mr. Obama has been no saint on civil rights, from failing to close Guantanamo to quietly continuing warrantless wiretapping and other surveillance. However, the Republicans have squandered the Muslim vote for a generation through a replay of their Southern Strategy. By systematically demonizing Muslims at the party level, they have made it impossible for us to vote for them. Michelle Malkin (who advocates placing all Muslims in internment camps) may be a fringe player in the Republican party, but Michelle Bachmann (who advocates a Muslim witch hunt to root out Muslims in the federal government), Herman Cain (who would apply a Muslim litmus test prior to hiring anyone), Newt Gingrich (who compares Muslims to Nazis), and Tom Tancredo (who advocates bombing Mecca and Medina) are most certainly not–in fact, all of them ran for president under the Republican banner. Add to that the right’s insistence of propagating the Obama crypto-Muslim story as a slur and you have a veritable definition of Islamophobia. Even the current nominee, Mr. Romney, said in a debate he would not consider a qualified Muslim for a cabinet level post since Muslims do not constitute a large enough proportion of the population to justify it–a reasoning that should also exclude a Mormon from becoming president. Hiring or not hiring someone based on their religion is a violation of their civil rights and fundamental American principles, and no American (Muslim or otherwise) should allow such violations to creep into governing philosophy.
Leadership. This is perhaps the toughest to judge, and the toughest to quantify. However, certain anecdotes truly cement this in Mr. Obama’s favor. First is the decision to green-light the mission to kill Osama Bin Laden. While in retrospect it seems like an easy decision, prospectively it is much muddier. There are a myriad of ways this mission could have gone disastrously wrong. Imagine being engaged in Pakistani airspace by fighter jets we had sold them. Or storming the compound and mistakenly killing innocent women and children only to find intelligence about Osama’s whereabouts were wrong. Or having Osama escape, and chasing him through a sovereign country’s streets only to have our strikeforce overcome by a violent mob of Pakistanis. Almost any alternate scenario would have been an international embarrassment or worse, and would have led to a premature end to Mr. Obama’s political career. Yes, it is easy for Mr. Romney to say in retrospect he would have done the same thing now that the outcome is known. It takes leadership and courage to proceed with an uncertain outcome.
Another major test of leadership came this summer, when Mr. Biden unwittingly dragged his boss into the fray of gay marriage. Mr. Obama was already fully engaged in a re-election campaign which he knew very well would be a fight for the center-ground of the electorate. Yet, he used the opportunity to state his own personal viewpoint (which risked alienating many middle ground voters) without pandering or massaging it, and without forcing its acceptance by others. Mr. Romney, by contrast, has shown time and again that he is unwilling or unable to stand up to even the fringes of his party, as evidenced by his newfound criticism of Planned Parenthood–an organization that he found worthy of charitable contribution just a few short years ago. I simply cannot and will not cede the right to appoint lifetime Supreme Court Justices to someone who has shown a remarkable inability to withstand political pressure.
Mr. Obama has not been a perfect president by any means. He has not been the president I imagined he would be nor, I venture, the president he imagined he would be. However, he has certainly made considerable progress amid formidable challenges and united opposition. Mr. Romney, by contrast, has revealed himself as weak-willed and short-sighted. On November 6th, I will proudly vote to give Mr. Obama the second term he has earned.